Friday, July 23, 1943

The Charlotte News

Friday, July 23, 1943


Site Ed. Note: Surpassing even the expectations of General Patton, reports the front page, his Seventh Army raced to take Palermo the day before, covering some sixty miles in 58 hours. Palermo gave the Allies control of the Tyrrhenian Sea and thereby the west coast of Italy, while cutting off the western section of Sicily from its supply lines out of Messina.

The Allies now controlled about four-fifths of the island, leaving only the northeast corner above Catania to Messina in Axis hands.

General Montgomery continued to encounter tough Axis resistance before Catania but was reported making progress, now aided by the Canadians who had turned hard right to the Axis flank, west of Catania.

Stephen Barber tells of an American paratrooper, Michael Scambulluri of Albany, N.Y., captured in Sicily, interrogated, then shot for being a spy. He was shot not just once, but seven times. Then, to finish the job, two hand grenades were hurled in his direction. Still, he was conscious, as the captain of the Italian company ordered his burial the following morning. He managed to crawl away during the night and finally reached safety in the hands of some friendly civilians next day.

From the Russian front, it was reported that the Red Army had taken the last heavily fortified town in the Orel sector, 35 miles north of the city. The summer offensive had thus far cost the Germans 50,000 killed and the loss of an additional 6,000 men taken prisoner. The toll of destroyed tanks had risen to 1,148, the loss of planes to 900 thus far in the ten-day offensive.

And, OPA announced that, very shortly, the rationing of coffee, in effect since the previous November, would be lifted. Reason was that the Atlantic was now less harried by the U-boat menace and in consequence coffee imports had risen to 50% above normal.

Sugar imports from the Caribbean also had substantially improved in recent months, but there was no prospect of relief from sugar rationing because of military needs.

You will resume your coffee, but you had better like it black and unsweetened.

On the editorial page, Raymond Clapper tells of his accompanying one of the bombers which bombed Rome on Monday. He describes the precision with which the intended targets were found, to preserve the Vatican and buildings of historical importance, the Forum, the Colosseum, each of which Mr. Clapper could see from his window in the nose of the bomber, though three or four miles distant.

That which impressed him most about the mission was the feeble resistance of the Italian air force. They encountered but two fighters and those scurried away without firing a shot. He saw some flak ahead of the plane but none of it hit anyone in the squadron. So far as he had been able to ascertain, there were no lost planes from the mission. Italy, he concludes, was finished.

The only thing which went wrong was that some watermelons which the co-pilot had put aboard for cooling wound up spoiled, even if cool.

Samuel Grafton compares the invasion of Sicily to the Orel counter-offensive in Russia and finds the latter more decisive in winning the war, that the Sicily campaign was to contain the Axis, while Orel was designed to defeat it. What had started as the summer offensive of the German army had now turned, in a matter of days, into Russia's own offensive and Germany's possible final annihilation on the Russian front.

Of course, the depleted ranks of the Wehrmacht in Russia contributed to the Russian success, as several divisions had been displaced since the previous November to guard Southern Europe. And the reason for that movement was the invasion of North Africa, now followed by the invasion of Sicily.

"The Senators" hopes that the mission to the war zones by selected Senators to inspect airfields would instill in them a sense of the war that they might bring back home to champion the resolve finally to win it--not the usual parade of political well-wishers, camped out far from the scene of battle, coming home to carp and critique on the basis of a shallow understanding of the war.

"Any Takers?" remarks on Phillip Murray's campaign to have CIO back a candidate for any office in 1944 who would be against the anti-strike bill passed by Congress over the veto of the President. The editorial suggests that the position is out of step with the mood of the people, that the people were behind the war and were not in favor of Labor holding up the war effort to obtain higher wages.

"Olin's Thesis" examines a racially charged statement by South Carolina Governor Olin Johnston, proclaiming that South Carolina had generously provided for blacks, and for those who would seek social equality, and stir the masses to demand it, he would have nothing but contempt, would eject from the state any such troublemakers.

The editorial expects the Governor's statement to draw ample fire from the Negro press across the country. But, it also expects a backlash from the more mainstream press as well. And rightly so, it offers: Governor Johnston's enunciated concerns over Northern intervention were correct; his claims, however, of South Carolina's tradition of generosity toward blacks was wrong.

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